Friday, 30 June 2017

Family fun at the Grace Academy

BANDING TOGETHER: The 147th Birmingham Brownies make friendship
bracelets to sell at the fun day.  Left to right, Maddi Hakeem, Beth Millman,
Maddison Woolgrove and Stevie O'Neil.

GRACE Academy’s annual family fun day is to be held tomorrow (Saturday).
An inflatable obstacle course, donkey rides, food stalls and craft activities will be among the highlights.
Entry is free, but student leaders are aiming to raise money towards the purchase of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which will be available for use by the local community.
The event will be taking place at the Chelmsley Wood school from 12noon-3pm.

Riot of colour in Chelmsley Wood

BLOOMING LOVELY: The wildflower meadow opposite Asda.

WHAT a difference a few months makes!
Earlier this year, Other Side of Solihull reported on a series of sites that had been sown with wildflower seeds.
Now the Lowbrook open space and a patch of land in Bosworth Drive/Winchester Drive have been transformed into colourful meadows.
Helped along by the recent warm weather, the poppies and cornflowers were in full bloom by Midsummer’s Day.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Period drama comes to Castle Brom

NO EXHAUSTING AUSTEN: The story was adapted
for stage by Jessica Swale.
MORE than 200 years since Jane Austen authored Sense and Sensibility, the story of two young women is still a powerful draw.
Now Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre will be taking a stage adaptation of the 19th century novel on a tour of the region.
Ahead of its arrival at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, Other Side of Solihull spoke to director James Knapp.
“It’s a story of love and that’s obviously still something that we can all relate to,” says James, when we ask about the enduring appeal of Austen’s original romance.
“Whether it’s falling in love or getting your heart broken, there will be a character in this which different members of the audience will be able to identify with.
“It’s rather like Shakespeare, there are reasons that stories such as this stand the test of time.”
James has been involved with the Crescent for seven years and while he originally had the actor’s ambition of “seeing his name in lights”, he was increasingly drawn to directing.
He speaks with great enthusiasm about seeing a cast come together during the rehearsal period.
“It’s an amateur production in the finest sense of the word, in that people are doing this for pleasure,” he says.
“Although it is a relatively tight turnaround for a show like this, it doesn’t feel like it because of how much work people have put in.”
The show started with a three-night run at the Crescent studio and is now ready for a mini-tour. James explains how a number of “beautiful gardens” – including the Castle Bromwich estate – were chosen for performances.
Outdoor theatre obviously has a long tradition, although performing in the open air does present
its own challenges.
“You never can depend on the British weather,” laughs James. “Even in high summer, you don’t know what will happen.
“It could be blistering sunshine or totally overcast; the show might have to be called off in the event of a complete downpour.
“But there’s two ways you can respond to that, either you worry about it or you embrace it as part of doing a tour like this!”
Sense and Sensibility will be performed at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens on July 1-2. Tickets are £10, available in advance. Visit the theatre's website for further details.

Latest edition of our online newspaper is out now


THE latest edition of our online newspaper is out now.
You can read the publication on Issuu and remember to send us your stories or suggestions for next month's edition.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Authorities investigate fly-tipping in Chelmsley Wood

SOLIHULL Community Housing (SCH) believes it has identified the person responsible for dumping a huge pile of rubbish in a Chelmsley Wood street.
Earlier today, the organisation appealed for information about the waste which had been strewn along the roadside in Conway Road.
A photo showed timber, furniture and other items heaped up on the verge and pavement.
Following the online appeal, SCH said it had received a number of responses and information about the alleged culprit.
Fly-tipping is a criminal offence which typically results in a fine for those convicted. A custodial sentence can also be imposed in cases involving an individual, although a prison term is usually reserved for the most serious offences - for instance, the dumping of material which could pose a hazard to the public.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Cannabis plants worth tens of thousands seized

POLICE have launched an investigation after a fire at a Chelmsley Wood property led to the discovery of a significant cannabis factory.
Firefighters were called to a terraced house in Nevada Way last Saturday afternoon (June 17).
When crews entered the property to tackle the blaze on the first floor, they realised that the home was being used to cultivate drugs.
It is understood that the incident may have been sparked by the equipment being used; the electrics which drugs gangs rig up for light and heating are a notorious fire hazard.
West Midlands Police said that no arrests had been made but 62 plants - with a street value of more than £60,000 - had been removed from the house and inquiries are ongoing.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Street parade will launch Marston Green gala

MARSTON Green Scout Group will be staging their annual gala tomorrow (Saturday).
There will be a parade through the streets, with the procession making its way to St Leonard's Church for the grand opening.
Visitors can look forward to traditional stalls, games, a tombola and prize draws.
The street parade gets underway at 12.30pm, with the gala opening at 1pm. Please note that a number of village roads will be closed for an hour from 12.15pm.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Colourful character spotted in Chelmsley Wood


RESIDENTS in Chelmsley Wood have been surprised  to see a rather exotic visitor strutting around the estate.
The West Midlands-based Pets & Animals Lost & Found have said they had received a number of reports in relation to a stray peahen over the course of the past month.
One resident said the brightly-coloured bird had been in her grandmother's garden since Saturday.
Both the RSPCA and Solihull Council have been contacted, but are understood to have advised that they cannot remove the errant pet because it does not appear to be injured.
Most species of peafowl originate from Asia and the birds were probably first brought to Britain by the Romans. Their lurid plumage makes them a popular choice of pet, but they can be aggressive and the male bird has a particularly loud call.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Disruption to local roads during sewer works

A COUPLE of local roads will close later this month while sewer installation works are carried out.
Both Holly Lodge Walk, in Fordbridge (June 26-July 2) and Piccadilly Close, Chelmsley Wood (June 26-July 16) will be affected.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Solihull cabinet member suspended following "hanging" tweet

CONTROVERSY: The comment which has
led to Coun Hawkins' suspension.
A FORMER Mayor of Solihull faces an investigation following a formal complaint about a tweet which he posted following the Grenfell fire tragedy.
Councillor Ken Hawkins had responded to a photo shared by a Guardian journalist, which showed residents upset by the authorities' handling of the crisis gathered at Kensington Town Hall.
The retired police officer had tweeted "Lets get ourselves a hangin" and accused the media of stirring up tensions following the blaze, in which 79 people have been confirmed dead or are missing presumed dead.
Today, Solihull Council confirmed that, following a formal complaint, Coun Hawkins had been suspended from his duties as the cabinet member for the environment, housing and regeneration with immediate effect.
Leader of Solihull Council, Bob Sleigh, said: "In light of the complaint related to Coun Hawkins' comments on social media, an investigation will now take place led by the council's monitoring officer in line with the council's standards procedure."
In the meantime, Coun Sleigh will himself be taking responsibility for his colleague's portfolio.
Prior to posting the tweet, Coun Hawkins had visited high-rise buildings in Chelmsley Wood in an effort to reassure residents about fire safety standards.
He has since deleted the post which prompted the backlash and today shared an apology.
"I fully appreciate that my tweet on Friday, which related to protests outside and inside the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea council offices, may have caused offence and I unreservedly apologise for that.
"In no way whatsoever was the short message directed at the unfortunate victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and I am distraught that some people have interpreted it in this way."
While some had taken to Twitter calling on Coun Hawkins to stand down, former councillor John Bramham defended his ex-colleague.
"It might have been unwise of him to put that out into the public domain, but it certainly doesn't reflect who Ken is or what he's about."
  • During a meeting of Solihull's cabinet last week, councillors discussed the local response following events in London. A full report will be in this month's edition of Other Side of Solihull.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Nominations open for Solihull Civic Awards

RECOGNITION: Last year's winners with Coun Mike Robinson, then
Mayor of Solihull

TIME is running out to nominate unsung heroes for this year’s Solihull Civic Honour Awards.
The annual event recognises people who have played a key role in their community. Categories include: Creative Arts, Community Involvement, Sport and Making a Difference for Young People:
All entries must be received by July 16. You can download the nomination form here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

New look for village lychgate

REVAMPED: The lychgate in the middle of the village
Photo/Bickenhill & Marston Green Parish Council

ONE of Marston Green's best-known landmarks has been renovated.
Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council said the roof of the lychgate - which stands in the Garden of Memory - has now been replaced.
The structure is believed to have been erected shortly after the end of the Second World War.
Last autumn, moss was removed and the timber underneath was found to have gone rotten.
After some discussion about the options available, councillors had agreed to get quotes for the work.
Updating residents on Facebook earlier this week, a parish council spokesman said that the lychgate had stood for many decades and - despite the fact that it had sometimes attracted anti-social behaviour - the organisation was keen to retain it.
"At the moment, the wood appears in an unfinished state, but over a period of time the timber will weather and look more natural," they added.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Engineering a solution to a long-standing problem

AN EVENT to encourage more young women to enter traditionally male-dominated industries will be held in Chelmsley Wood next week.
The WMG Academy will be hosting the tea party to raise awareness of possible career choices in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Those who attend will be able to try their hand at skills including 3D printing and car modelling and meet people who are employed in these fields.
The number of women who work in the so-called STEM sectors is still small, with figures from 2015 suggesting that only 12 per cent of the UK workforce is female.
That said, concerted efforts to close the gender gap do appear to be having an effect, with a big part of the job tackling the misconceptions that have been allowed to build up over time.
Assistant Principal Farhat Parveen said: "There is a skills gap in this country and we want to encourage girls and young women to think seriously about a career in engineering and technology.
"It’s not all about dirty overalls - engineers work in music, TV, beauty and space exploration. They also help save the environment, track wild animals, design lifesaving medical equipment and ensure our water is safe to drink.
"There are some fantastic opportunities – it’s just about finding the one that suits your interests."
The event, open to girls of all ages, will take place on Thursday (June 22), from 5.00-6.30pm. You can register here.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Housing chiefs reassure North Solihull's high-rise residents

FLAT FIRE: An incident in Chelmsley Wood
last month was swiftly dealt with by the
Fire Service. Photo/WMFS.
SOLIHULL Community Housing (SCH) has said the Fire Service has today carried out safety checks at all of its high-rise buildings, after a dozen people were confirmed dead in a tower block blaze in London.
The organisation also confirmed there would be no change to its "stay put" policy, which encourages residents to stay inside their flat in the event of a fire breaking out elsewhere in the building.
This advice is common across the UK, but has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the tragic incident in the capital.
So far, 12 people have been confirmed dead and almost 70 have been hospitalised after flames tore through Grenfell Tower, Kensington, in the early hours of this morning.
In a statement, a SCH spokesman said: "While the full reasons behind this dreadful incident have yet to be fully established, it is important that we remind you of our fire safety message.
"Our advice to high rise residents in the event of a fire remains to stay in your flat, unless told to leave by the emergency services. If the fire is in your own flat leave and shut the front door.
"Our fire doors have one-hour fire resistance. The stairwells have two hours’ fire resistance. Most UK high rises do not have fire alarms as each flat is designed to contain a fire within its own walls.
"The fire witnessed in London last night was extremely rare. While last night’s fire is bound to be of concern for anyone living in a high rise, please rest assured that your personal well-being and safety is something we treat with the utmost importance."
There are more than 30 high-rise blocks in the borough, all of which were built in the 1960s and 70s and are located in North Solihull.
Several of these have been demolished in recent years as part of the ongoing Regeneration project.
Girton House, in Smith's Wood, had actually been used by West Midlands Fire Service for a training exercise in 2012, prior to being pulled down.

Top Radio 4 show to come from Chelmsley Wood


A SPECIAL edition of one of Britain's longest-running radio shows is to be broadcast from Chelmsley Wood.
Next Friday's instalment of Any Questions? is to come live from the WMG Academy and marks the first anniversary of the EU referendum.
In a debate chaired by regular host Jonathan Dimbleby (pictured), senior politicians and experts will consider the future course of the UK, 12 months on from the vote.
Kate Tague, WMG Academy’s executive principal, said: "We are particularly pleased to have been chosen for this edition.
"There will be a focus on what Brexit will look like for the current generation of young people and it’s very fitting for an academy like ours which is helping to prepare that next generation of UK citizens for the real world."
Any Questions? is broadcast every Friday evening; it has been on air for almost 70 years and a fixture of the Radio 4 schedule since 1970. The last edition to come from Solihull was broadcast from Arden Academy, in Knowle, five years ago.
Anyone over 14 can apply to be in the audience and for this episode the BBC is particularly keen to get young people to attend and put their questions to the panel.
To apply for seats, email c.lewis@wmgacademy.org.uk with your contact details and the number of tickets you would like.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Firefighters hail lucky escape after tumble dryer fire

A FIRE which started when a tumble dryer caught alight could have destroyed a house in Marston Green.
Crews from Sheldon Fire Station were called to tackle a blaze at the Wells Walk address on Sunday (June 11).
A photo posted on their Twitter feed shows the blackened remains of the kitchen appliance, which erupted in flames at just before 1pm.
A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said that their speedy arrival may have saved the terraced property.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Community art gallery in Chelmsley this summer


ARTISTS are being invited to exhibit their work at a "pop-up" gallery which will be running in Chelmsley Wood town centre over the summer months.
The community-focused exhibition, which is being co-ordinated by the B37 Art Project, will be taking place in July and August.
Anyone who would like to take part should email a selection of their work [up to six examples] to contact@b37project.org. Please submit before Friday (June 16).

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tea and cake at Meriden Adventure Playground


MERIDEN Adventure Playground will be inviting its supporters to enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake next weekend.
The organisers say that the event will be an opportunity to say "a huge thank you" to the volunteers who have given their time to the facility and helped raise funds to keep it open.
It will coincide with the Great Get Together - a series of gatherings organised to mark the first anniversary of Jo Cox's murder.
The Labour MP had been attacked and killed on June 16 last year, while on her way to a constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire. The Get Together has been spearheaded by a foundation set up in Mrs Cox's memory, who have said the events will help promote a sense of togetherness in communities around the UK.
The playground's tea and cake event will be held on Saturday (June 17), starting at 11.30am.

  • Another event will be held at the nearby Three Trees Centre on Friday (from 11am-1pm), with Meriden MP Caroline Spelman inviting organisations including The Haven Breast Cancer Charity and Gro-Organic to speak about their work.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Chelmsley Wood street closed following "gun sighting"

POLICE swooped on a Chelmsley Wood street yesterday (Friday) amid reports that a gun had been spotted.
Officers descended on Coralin Close at just before 1pm and blocked off the road to examine the surrounding area.
In a statement, West Midlands Police said that they had been called to the scene after eyewitnesses had seen "a red car acting suspiciously".
A vehicle was searched but the force confirmed that no arrests were made.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Spelman's majority secure despite shock losses

CONSERVATIVE candidate Caroline Spelman has been re-elected as the MP for Meriden, once again securing a significant majority.
The former cabinet minister, who was standing for the sixth time, polled over 19,000 votes more than Labour's Tom McNeil.
Speaking after the result was declared at North Solihull Sports Centre, Mrs Spelman said: "I am deeply touched and honoured by the support I have received amongst my constituents.
"I will use every ounce of my strength [and] experience in the service of Meriden constituency in the new Parliament."
Mr McNeil, who took to Twitter to thanks his supporters, did manage to increase the Labour vote from two years ago, adding around 5,000 votes, but was unable to close the gap on his Tory rival.
It appears that both parties benefited from the collapse of UKIP, with their candidate Les Kaye losing his deposit.
Alison Gavin (Green) and Antony Rogers (Lib Dems) also failed to reach the five per cent mark, as the vote swung overwhelmingly behind the two main parties. Indeed, between them the Tories and Labour attracted more than four out of five of the ballot papers cast.
Despite victory for Mrs Spelman and her Parliamentary colleague Julian Knight, who won in neighbouring Solihull, it was a bruising night for the Tories.
Having gone into the election campaign confident of an increased majority, a dramatic reversal in the opinion polls actually meant gains for Labour and the loss of the Conservatives' overall majority.
The West Midlands had been expected to be a key battleground, with the Tories throwing resources at claiming marginals such as Edgbaston, Northfield and Wolverhampton South West.
In the end only two seats turned blue and these victories were offset by a shock Labour win in Warwick & Leamington.

Result:
Alison Gavin (Green) -  1,416
Les Kaye (UKIP) -  2,016
Tom McNeil (Lab) -  14,675
Antony Rogers (Lib Dem) - 2,663
Caroline Spelman (Con) - 33,873

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Opinion: Voting matters - even in safe seats

“THEY’RE all the same” and “It doesn’t change anything” are two of the most common reasons that people give for not voting.
Except that definitely isn’t true this time round. In fact, the two main parties have not gone into a General Election campaign on such different platforms for 30 years.
And that’s just Labour and the Tories. In Meriden you can also choose to cast your vote for the Lib Dems, Greens or UKIP.
The West Midlands is of course a key battleground in what could be one of the most pivotal polls of modern times.
It's no coincidence that Theresa May rounded off her campaign at this constituency's own National Motorcycle Museum, flanked by members of her cabinet. And 24 hours earlier Jeremy Corbyn had addressed a mass rally just down the road in Birmingham, calling on Clean Bandit and the comedian Steve Coogan to address the cheering crowds.
Meriden is of course considered a safe seat and the real focus of activists in recent weeks has been in more marginal seats such as Edgbaston - one of the prize jewels from Labour's 1997 landslide - and Birmingham Yardley.
Perhaps this is part of the reason for apathy among many of our readers. While turn-out across the entire constituency was a relatively respectable 64 per cent two years ago, the proportion of people eligible to vote in the north of the borough who actually did so was rather lower.
This is cause for concern because it is specifically areas where wages are being squeezed, jobs are less abundant and crime is slightly higher, that the decisions taken by parties at Westminster are likely to have even more impact on residents.
If you’re still convinced that what happens in Parliament is somehow separate from the lives of people in Chelmsley Wood or Kingshurst then take a look through our most recent issue.
Whether it’s changes to public transport policy, rising cases of domestic violence or arguments over education funding, there is a direct consequence here, in our community, to the decisions made there.
As a publication, Other Side of Solihull takes pride in being non-party political. We believe that all those who stand and serve have a right to be heard and every argument held up to scrutiny.
On this basis we have no intention of following the example of the national press and telling you which box to cross on today. We only ask you take the time to read the policies, think about what matters to you and get down to the polling station.
  • On the ballot paper: Alison Gavin (Green), Les Kaye (UKIP), Tom McNeil (Labour), Antony Rogers (Lib Dem) and Caroline Spelman (Conservative). Polling stations are open 7am-10pm. You must be registered to vote but you do not need to take your polling card with you.

Pensioner's 30 years at Chelmsley Wood charity

"THANK YOU": Long-serving volunteer Sylvia Hetherington
A PENSIONER who has been volunteering at Barnardo's for the past 30 years has received an award for her exceptional service.
Sylvia Hetherington, from Chelmsley Wood, received the special "thank you" from colleagues as the children's charity marked Volunteers' Week.
The 73-year-old had started helping out at her local branch, in Chelmsley town centre, to assist her search for a job. But even after she got into work, Sylvia carried on supporting the organisation and is still involved three decades later.
The mum-of-two, who said she very much enjoyed meeting new people, was delighted to be presented with an engraved wooden trophy in the shape of a 'B' last week.
"In the old days the women were often expected to stay at home and look after the children, so I suffered from a lack of work experience when I needed to start looking for a job," said Sylvia.
"The job centre suggested that volunteering would help so I joined Barnardo’s and found that it really boosted my self-confidence. In fact I enjoyed it so much that I decided to carry on supporting them even after I found part-time employment."
Javed Khan, the charity's chief executive, singled Sylvia out for praise in an article for the Huffington Post paying tribute to those who helped out.
He said: "These incredible volunteers are the lifeblood of Barnardo’s and I cannot thank them enough for their life-long loyalty to the charity. Without them, we would not be able to help the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children and young people each year."
The Barnardo’s store is open Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sundays from 10am-4pm. To find out about volunteering yourself call 0121 788 0737 or visit www.barnardos.org.uk

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Concern over strain on domestic violence services

INCIDENTS of domestic violence remain a cause for concern across North Solihull, a new report suggests.
Crime figures compiled for last year show that 1,173 offences were recorded across the borough, an increase of 15 per cent. In Chelmsley Wood there were 41 incidents in January to March – the highest number out of the 17 wards which make up Solihull.
During the same three-month period, there were 40 offences in Kingshurst & Fordbridge and 32 in Smith’s Wood.
The report, presented to Solihull Council last month, suggests that support services for victims have been stretched to breaking point.
As previously reported in Other Side of Solihull, an additional £640,000 has been released by the Government to help deal with the problem across the West Midlands.
But the document suggests this extra help may be offset by a redistribution of resources by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Summarising the situation, the report claimed services were working “at full capacity” and that while staff were prioritising the most serious cases, demand still “heavily outweighed” the help available.
The difficulties facing the support network have been well-publicised both locally and nationwide. Last month it was reported that the number of cases reaching court across the region had in fact fallen last year – largely due to a lack of evidence or victims withdrawing support for charges.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “We know that not all survivors of domestic abuse want a criminal justice outcome.
“However, what these figures show is that, for those who do, there is still a very real culture of victim-blaming and fear that stops survivors from accessing justice.”
Other key findings from the Safer Solihull report included:
* There were a total of 13,626 offences reported across the borough in 2016/17.
* Castle Brom remains one of the hotspots for burglaries, with 38 break-ins in the final quarter.
* Chelmsley Wood saw the highest level of vehicle crime in the borough.

Monday, 5 June 2017

A buzz surrounds scout project in Marston Green

1ST Marston Green Scouts have helped create a wildflower patch to aid the local bee population.
Youngsters have sown an area at Millennium Wood in the hope it will attract the pollen-collecting insects - which have seen their numbers plummet nationwide.
The group sought permission for the project from Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council. Once this was secured, the plot was prepared over two evenings using seeds donated by environmental group Friends of the Earth.
Changes to farming techniques are held largely responsible for the decline in the bee population. According to the charity Bumblebee Conservation, two species have already become extinct in the UK and several other varieties are in trouble.

Fight to save playground continues


THE team who run Meriden Adventure Playground have said that the threat of closure has brought those who use the facility closer together.
Trustee Ali Wood argued that Solihull Council’s decision to cease funding from this autumn had served to galvanise parents and volunteers, many of whom have thrown themselves into the campaign to keep the site open.
“While it has been a difficult few months in many respects, it has also, conversely, made people realise how much they value this playground,” she said.
Last month, trustees attended the playground’s Annual General Meeting at the Bosworth Community Centre, Chelmsley Wood.
Those who attended were briefed about recent success stories, including the application for charitable status and the receipt of a National Playwork Award.
There were also updates about the ongoing efforts to secure alternative funding, with news that a raft of applications for grants had been submitted to various community funds and charitable bodies. The possibility of applying to parish councils in the local area for funds has also been discussed.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Parents speak out over school funding

FUNDING FIGHT: A demonstration took place in Mell Square last month.

PARENTS in North Solihull are being urged to get behind a campaign which was set up amid concerns about a squeeze on school budgets.
The action-group Fair Funding for Solihull Schools has warned that growing pressures are forcing headteachers to make cuts to key services.
As it stands, borough schools are looking at an £11million reduction in their annual budget by 2019, which works out at around a £357 cut per pupil per year.
Mums and dads locally are pressing politicians to ensure that sufficient funding is made available and last month a demonstration to draw attention to the issue was held in Mell Square.
Jeni Mills, a parent-governor and member of the action-group, has said that the role local communities have to play in highlighting the challenges should not be underestimated.
Speaking to Other Side of Solihull, she said that the current situation was putting significant strain on services both locally and nationwide.
“Eighty per cent of school budgets go on staffing costs, so inevitably when cuts come it means that the number of teaching assistants, for instance, is likely to fall,” she said.
“Then there are obviously other very important services which will be put at risk, from sports coaching to music tuition. We feel very strongly that education is a right not a privilege. Schools should be properly funded because every child deserves the same opportunities and start in life.”
The funding crisis has caused concerns around country, with thousands of heads having written to parents to highlight the challenges they face and urging them to press Parliamentary candidates for answers during the General Election campaign.
The Government had previously outlined changes to the formula which determines how much money is made available, although some have argued the proposed reforms will create problems in themselves.
• If you’d like to get involved with Fair Funding for Solihull Schools, you can contact them via their Facebook group.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Candidates clash at Chelmsley Wood election debate

QUESTION TIME: Alison Gavin (Green), Les Kaye (UKIP), Tom McNeil
(Labour), Antony Rogers (Lib Dem) and Caroline Spelman (Conservative).

LOCAL residents whose area "has been badly left behind" have lost faith in politics, party candidates have been told.
In the final question of last night's General Election hustings, David Cole, from Kingshurst Parish Council, listed a series of grievances, including the building on Babbs Mill, an ailing doctor's surgery and cuts to policing.
"What are you going to say to residents to make them get out of bed to vote next Thursday," he asked the panel.
So ended an event which gave the public the chance to put their questions to the five men and women standing for election in Meriden.
Taking place at Chelmsley Wood's Three Trees Centre, the wide-ranging debate covered everything from schools funding to arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Mr Cole's question at the close of the evening brought the focus back to local issues.
Conservative Caroline Spelman, who earlier had been challenged by another member of the audience about what she had done for "ordinary working class people" during her 20 years as MP, said she had fought to secure vital investment as part of the North Solihull Regeneration.
"We have been creating more social housing on these estates. Just outside there is a new school building and if you walk out the door of this facility you will see see a new dementia care home going up. It's unfair to say nothing has been done to help this community."
Mrs Spelman, who opened by saying it had been a privilege to represent the constituency, faced tough questions from some members of the audience, but promised "to fight local people's corner."
Labour's Tom McNeil was scathing about the Tories' record in government and in one heated exchange branded the party "a pack of liars".
"The Conservatives say they wouldn't attack workers' rights. I don't trust them at all. They have cut our school budgets. They haven't funded our NHS. Why would we trust them to protect our workers' rights? They didn't even want the minimum wage when we brought that in!"
Both candidates faced questions about their respective leaders. When Mrs Spelman suggested that Theresa May was the most qualified person to negotiate with Europe, one audience member shouted out "you'd have to find her first."
Mr McNeil meanwhile was forced to deny that Labour's Jeremy Corbyn had supported the IRA.
The Lib Dems' candidate Antony Rogers - a local businessman - was critical of cuts to public services, arguing that the UK needed to decide what sort of society it wanted.
"I don't want to hear we're all in it together," he said, in an attack on Inheritance Tax giveaways. "Don't let them tell you that there is not enough money."
Alison Gavin, from the Greens, said her own politics had been shaped by having herself faced issues such as homelessness and ill health. She spoke about some of her party's key priorities including tackling climate change and opposing HS2.
"We are against high speed rail and always have been," she said. "Will ticket prices be affordable for local people? And there's no guarantee it will create more jobs."
UKIP's Les Kaye - who maintained his party could mount the best challenge against Mrs Spelman - suggested local people had been let down by the main parties, citing frustrations over the North Solihull Regeneration.
"They have built executive homes on Babbs Mill, but 8,000 people are still stuck on the housing waiting list," he said.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Six in custody following major disturbance in Chelmsley town centre

SIX people have been arrested after a large fight broke out in Chelmsley Wood town centre this evening.
Unverified reports suggest that dozens of people may have been involved in the disturbance near Pine Square.
One eyewitness claims that the original fight had broken out at KFC, before spilling out into the street.
Solihull Police confirmed they had been called out at around 7.45pm and footage from the scene shows riot vans and dog units in attendance.
One video posted online appears to show youths pinned to the ground and there are suggestions that at least one person was treated by paramedics at the scene.
Following the fracas, roads were blocked off and there was disruption to a number of local bus services.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Police step up patrols after elderly woman robbed in Kingshurst

THE shocking robbery of an elderly man in his own bedroom could be one of several crimes committed by the same offenders, police have said.
Earlier this week, Other Side of Solihull, reported that an 89-year-old had been threatened by three hooded men, who broke into his home in the early hours of Sunday (May 28).
The man, who is profoundly deaf, had a pillow held over his head by the trio, who fled with cash and jewellery.
Now police have revealed that the appalling incident in Arran Way could be linked to two other offences which have taken place in North Solihull in recent days.
When officers attended the original robbery they were flagged down by a second resident who revealed his own home had been burgled overnight. A spare car key and TV were stolen from the address.
And now there are reports of another elderly victim being targeted in Gilson Way, Kingshurst. The 87-year-old woman was putting her cats out last night (Wednesday) when two men knocked her to the ground, assaulted her and fled with jewellery and bank cards. The cowardly attack happened around 11pm.
Forensic investigators attended the scene today and detectives are conducting house-to-house enquiries. Local officers have also increased patrols in the area.
Det Sgt Carl Grinnell, from Solihull CID, said: "Thankfully the injuries sustained by these elderly victims were not more serious, but they have both clearly been left shaken by what happened.
"I  would appeal to anyone who has seen anything suspicious or who has any information that would help to identify the offenders to make contact."
Anyone with information can call officers on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

UPDATE (02/06/17): A 33-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of robbery and a 33-year-old man arrested for handling goods − both remain in custody. A 48-year-old man was also detained on suspicion of handling stolen goods and has been released pending further inquiries.

Fears remain ahead of this weekend's bus shake-up

BUS passengers fear that a dramatic shake-up of local services will cause problems for those in North Solihull who rely on routes to get to school and work.
There has been an outpouring of anger after National Express announced sweeping changes to the network in late April.
People have packed into public meetings in Chelmsley Wood, Kingshurst and Tile Cross and a number of petitions have been launched.
The operator has made a number of concessions following the backlash – most notably announcing a school service to take account of the fact that the No 94 will no longer travel down Cooks Lane.
However, locals are still pressing for further adjustments, amid concerns that “chaos” could ensue from June 4, when the new timetable will be rolled out.
Local resident Nicola Roberts has set up a dedicated Facebook group to protest against the changes.
Her original complaint related to a double-decker No 14 service which will start to use Tile Cross Road and Chapelhouse Road – she described the change as “an accident waiting to happen”.
“I obviously had major concerns about this and when I looked into it, I soon found there were so many people angry about these changes for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “I think the consultation process was very badly run.”
Politicians from various parties have been quick to wade into the row.
Councillor Karl Macnaughton (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said that Kingshurst would suffer particularly badly following the changes – losing the No 71, 56 and 59 and seeing a “torturous” extension of the No 55 service to Birmingham.
“The main problem here is that buses are run by private companies whose main motive is profit,” he said.
“As a result they’re not really interested in routes, or times of day, where specific journeys don’t make them money. As a result, it’s often easy to get somewhere in the day but problematic getting back home again in the evening.
“Public transport really needs to be publicly owned and run on a ‘service provision’ rather than ‘for profit’ basis.”
Caroline Spelman, currently seeking to be re-elected as Meriden’s MP said she had been “dismayed” at changes to the No 72, which she has said will have a significant impact on Marston Green. National Express has said that the changes it had laid out took account of “changing customer use”.
In a message which has been put up in shelters around the area, the company said:
“New and updated timetables are designed to counter increasing traffic congestion and delays.”